Radicalism, Reform and National Identity in Scotland, 1820-1833

Radicalism, Reform and National Identity in Scotland, 1820-1833

Gordon Pentland


Royal Historical Society



The history of the Reform Acts viewed from a Scottish angle, bringing out its implications for relations with England.
'Pentland's work promises to fill a major hole in Scottish historical writing, and to do so in an exciting and innovative way.' COLIN KIDD

Awarded the Senior Hume Brown Prize 2010
The passing of the 'Great Reform Act' of 1832 retains a central place in British history. Historical debate, however, has focussed on whether reform represented the end of the ancien régime or a conservative holding action by political elites. Little critical thinking has been devoted to investigating the passage of the three different Reform Acts as a renegotiation of the relationship between England, Scotland and Ireland. By providing a history of reform in one national context this study addresses several key themes. It delivers a more 'British' history of reform, exploring how the constitutional crisis of 1828-32 was negotiated in different contexts and how, throughout the 1820s and 30s, events in England, Scotland and Ireland impacted on one another. It moves beyond constitutional questions to explore the development of a political culture of reform in shared languages, strategies and personnel across a number of political, religious and social reform campaigns. Finally, it argues that the period was crucial in the renegotiation of what it meant to be British and had a profound impact on national identities in Scotland, where different versions of Britishness and Scottishness were integral to the practice of politics at all levels.


October 2008
246 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Royal Historical Society Studies in History New Series
ISBN: 9780861932993
Format: Hardback
Royal Historical Society
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Table of Contents

The breadth of the reform agenda, 1820-1827
The political context of reform, 1820-1830
Scotland and the Passing of Parliamentary Reform
The creation of a National Movement, 1830-1832
Scotland and the Reformed Parliament, 1832-1833
Conclusion: Scotland in the Age of Reform


Pentland is to be congratulated for writing an excellent monograph, which is full of interesting insights that ought to ensure that Scotland is not a 'remote despised nook' in the writing of early nineteenth-century political history. ECONOMIC HISTORY REVIEW

Pentland has made an important contribution and offers a comprehensive understanding of the way that high profile Scottish politicians articulated reform and linked it to the idea of 'Britishness.' Since not much attention has been paid to parliamentary reform in Scottish historical accounts, Pentland's research - informed by the English reform debates and controversies - fills an important gap. INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF SCOTTISH STUDIES
A valuable contribution to the historiography of early nineteenth-century reform, nineteenth-century Scottish political history, and British national identity. JOURNAL OF BRITISH STUDIES

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